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Can loaded interface characteristics influence strain distributions in muscle adjacent to bony prominences?

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Eindhoven University of Technology, Eindhoven, The Netherlands.


Pressure distributions at the interface between skin and supporting tissues are used in design of supporting surfaces like beds, wheel chairs, prostheses and in sales brochures to support commercial products. The reasoning behind this is, that equal pressure distributions in the absence of high pressure gradients is assumed to minimise the risk of developing pressure sores. Notwithstanding the difficulty in performing reproducible and accurate pressure measurements, the question arises if the interface pressure distribution is representative of the internal mechanical state of the soft tissues involved. The paper describes a study of the mechanical condition of a supported buttock contact, depending on cushion properties, relative properties of tissue layers and friction. Numerical, mechanical simulations of a buttock on a supporting cushion are described. The ischial tuberosity is modelled as a rigid body, whereas the overlying muscle, fat and skin layers are modelled as a non-linear Ogden material. Material parameters and thickness of the fat layer are varied. Coulomb friction between buttock and cushion is modelled with different values of the friction coefficient. Moreover, the thickness and properties of the cushion are varied. High shear strains are found in the muscle near the bony prominence and the fat layer near the symmetry line. The performed parameter variations lead to large differences in shear strain in the fat layer but relatively small variations in the skeletal muscle. Even with a soft cushion, leading to a high reduction of the interface pressure the deformation of the skeletal muscle near the bone is high enough to form a risk, which is a clear argument that interface pressures alone are not sufficient to evaluate supporting surfaces.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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